The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

April 15, 2013

WVDA: Winter bee losses ‘normal’

West Virginia winter bee losses are “normal” again this year, although West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) cautions that that number can vary widely from apiary to apiary.

“The loss figures are not based on a formal survey, but rather the general impression of WVDA apiary inspectors as they work and communicate with the 962 registered beekeepers located throughout the state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick. “And, through the assistance of a USDA grant, the WVDA Apiary Section will conduct a formal survey of bee populations, disease prevalence and management practices in 2013.”

“The commercial producers are seeing 10- to 15-percent losses; hobbyists might be at 40 percent or higher,” said WVDA Apiary Specialist Paul Poling.

He pointed out that smaller producers might report a much higher percentage loss.

Poling also noted that effective mite control is critical to keeping winter losses to a minimum. Varroa and tracheal mites can infest hives and kill bees. Fumigants have been used to treat colonies, but a new, easier-to-use product is available this year.

Apivar is a chemical pesticide strip using the miticide Amitraz that can simply be placed inside the hive for a recommended 42 days. However, it is not safe for use when honey is being produced, so it is good only for spring and fall treatments.

Many bee experts have been concerned in recent years about what has been termed colony collapse disorder (CCD), an as-yet-unidentified condition — or complex of conditions — to explain the disappearance of entire colonies of bees. As of yet, CCD has not been identified in West Virginia.

For more information, contact the WVDA’s Apiary Program at 304-558-2210.


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